Not to keep harping on it, but let’s as, though we are huge supporters and fans of the HKJC which is in a Group of its own compared to every other racing club in the world, when it messes up- as it has with its simultaneous broadcasts and which entails television production, programing formats, presenters, business opportunities, consumer benefits, edutainment and, well, commonsense- we need to go Ding Dong and ask if anyone is home.
As Alan Aitken wrote in his On The Rails column in the SCMP this week, the amateurish bungle in the jungle of last Saturday’s broadcast of seven races from Caulfield and two random races from Randwick, was “clunky.”
When Alan, one of the few people in horse racing we know who understands the meaning of words made up of over five letters, uses the word “clunky” to describe that farcical broadcast, it made us think of those platform shoes worn by Slade, Basil Fawlty tripping over himself and the slapstick antics of The Keystone Cops.
And “clunky” is what those few wasted hours of airtime were all about where the prestigious Blue Diamond Stakes with future equine champions in mind was reduced to another also-ran race and never received the importance it deserved as the HIGHLIGHT of this broadcast.
Yes, it was a clunky piece of programing with zero pre and post race marketing where those even knowledgeable about Australian racing learnt nothing new about jockey Damien Browne and how he got the ride on the Peter Snowden-trained Earthquake because of the injury to Kieron McKevoy.
Turning to the running of The Oakleigh Plate, did viewers receive enough information on the horses engaged, how the recently-gelded and now much-improved Sri Lankan Rupee devalued them, and winning jockey Craig Newitt with his tough call to ride Samaready in the upcoming Newmarket instead of his big race winner on Saturday- and so much more where sports journalism comes into play.
Racing fans want and appreciate human interest stories like this as it’s a break from the punt and any perception that the HKJC is all about turnover.
The Edutainment Factor was nowhere to be seen.
Yes, this broadcast was as clunky- it was also a wasted opportunity- as Slade singing Cum On Feel The Noize. Yes, the band was even clunky at spelling.
Alan Aitken is a far more experienced and learned racing writer than we’ll ever be, but as marketing people – and we’re pretty good at it- the entire subject of these simultaneous broadcasts needs a far deeper understanding of what the end game is and its importance to commingling.
From here, it’s about how commingling has to happen on many levels for it to not only succeed from a wagering point of view- which it will- but how it MUST attract the punter to whom all these overseas races with its riders, horses, trainers etc are as new as eating sashimi for the first time.
Where’s the beef, yes, and what’s the magnet to attract them?
If not appetizing right from the start, they’re lost and will either stay with the racing they already know, or, if new to the sport and find its presentation to be, well, clunky, they get into their Lamborghinis and drive down that Yellow Brick Road looking for new investments available in the sporting world.
They don’t have time for three talking heads waffling on while sitting around Fraggle Rock and droning on like the pain we get from accidentally tuning in and going Around The Horne with a handful of racing tragics.
Nothing wrong with this, but, surely not the customer/wagering group the HKJC is looking at to boost turnover and, at least, quadruple its profits after tax and after covering all overheads.
This is where the Club wants to make that connection with the NEW big punter to ADD to its portfolio of existing big punters.
Everything and everyone else is gravy and it all becomes a global Coca-Cola jingle where everyone is singing in perfect harmony- but with the customer demographic very neatly cut into a primary market and a secondary market and a strategy to communicate with both- and achieve those primary business objectives.
It’s nothing personal, it’s business, and as racing fans, but with various other interests to keep our lives interesting in a great big world where one never stops learning, it’s quite amazing how the thinking of many in this sport- especially, highly-paid racing club executives- lose sight of the basic fact that this is a business…that happens to be a sport- and how best to present it.
The business of racing is not some fun little hobby horse that those hecklers from the peanut gallery think they can do. Easily.
As a business, when new revenue streams like simultaneous broadcasts, like commingling, like sponsorship marketing for these programs come on board, they cannot be promoted in the same old ways.
Because those same old ways- like the obligatory talking heads racing programs- are attracting a minuscule- and captive- audience and falling on deaf ears to anyone new.
Yet, these are allowed to carry on as, seemingly, no one is thinking of words like “reach”, relevance, tone, language, media platforms, KPIs- Key Performance Indicators- and the various ROIs- Return On Investments- that this programing needs for it to carry on- and not carry on like those old Carry On comedies.
From where we sit and view things from the outside looking in, the HKJC is not just the only game in town- but the best racing game in the world.
It’s attained this position through evolvement, innovation, a vision starting at the top and communication.
It also has the weak links that, try as they may, just might not be capable of taking that new ball and running with it- without tripping up.
Or, as in cricket, being given the new ball and bowling six consecutive wides.
Simultaneous broadcasts and how these are presented, changing programing formats that are racing’s version of muzak, understanding the primary customer group and primary business objectives, the sponsorship appeal of new, relevant racing programing, the need for a pre, post and sustaining marketing building blocks to “edutain” with The Big Picture and the future in mind when commingling comes on board, must be put in place now.
Carrying On Regardless thinking that the creaky old wheel ain’t broke is not the answer.